Divorce, Retirement, Seasons of Life, TRANSFORMATION, Transitions, Travel, TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS

PICKING UP THE BROKEN PIECES AND DENISE’S FESTIVE JOURNEY BEGINS

Article and photos by Denise McLaughlan

I am a lively and enthusiastic nearly 75-year-old woman who has embraced life despite 28 years on my own. I live in Cape Town South Africa in my 1837 characterful home. I have two grown-up children and three grandchildren, no other close family. I Grew up as an only child and used to feel lonely quite often. The latter has changed somewhat now that I am older and wiser.  Part of my nature has also been to engage with people, to be curious and have many interests. I have a a zest for living , and am not fazed by changes  – in fact I welcome new things- whether it be  learning all about technology, enjoying social media like Facebook trying new activities like PowerPoint collages or simply rearranging and decorating my house in a different way. I can bounce back from bad situations, for which I am thankful.

 Part of my ongoing verve is because since becoming a child of God, I have realised repeatedly that I cannot cope without Him in my life. He has led, guided, protected and provided for me for these 28 years since 1992, when I was only 47 and was broken, divorced, forced to go forward alone, find work (after 12 years at home). It wasn’t easy to get back into the workplace despite being a slightly-out- of -touch teacher and having worked in various fields such as an officer in the S A Army, selling insurance from a call-centre and many temporary jobs. I was fortunate to obtain the bond for my house and after 25 years it has been paid off!  My house has worked for me –providing income.

Over the years I was faced with times of unemployment, my children leaving home and having quite serious problems, depression and anxiety. I always believe there is help out there and one must go and get it. I attended Deryn’s Divorce Recovery workshop, I was active at my church and I resorted to my old-time journaling. Keeping a daily diary from my teenage days evolved into journaling my Quiet time with the Lord plus writing about and working through all the problems of the time. Later I started a blog and more recently some newsletters about my solo road trips in my converted Mazda camper car- more about that later!!

Some of the aftermath of the divorce was the ongoing problem of finances and so I started to take in boarders – or rather –tenants offering a room in my house plus sharing my kitchen, bathroom and at times my living area. So, doing I had extra income and felt safer after my children left home. I must admit I really enjoyed the young vibe and life in my home, which also freed me to pursue another great love of mine – weekend getaways and any form of travel. I would save or work as a showhouse sitter on Sunday afternoons just so I could afford a little trip…at first always looking for a friend to go along but lately I go it alone- if needs must be!

At around 60 years the young and fast call-centre environment got to me and I went back to teaching for two years- at a small Christian school where I had to take on Grade 2 and 3 in one class ( and this while I trained as a high school teacher!) I tackled it but then they realised I would be better with the Grade 5 and 6 class. This episode prepared me well for the next phase of my working life – that of being a part-time au pair for school going children working for one particular family. I was suited for this being a teacher, a mother and grandmother. This I did for 10 years – I mostly enjoyed this but it also had its difficult times. During this time, I started doing House-and –Pet sitting. Besides loving pets, it would give me that most welcome extra money – (always a toss-up with on whether to do maintenance on the house with it or save for a trip!?)

You will have gathered that I was inventive in surviving the working years, but this builds in faith that God will provide, and I never once went without a roof over my head or food to eat. I my next blog I will show you how my adventurous life developed over the years.  Please join me for the journey and I would be happy for you to comment below.

Divorce, Retirement, Seasons of Life, TRANSFORMATION, Transitions, Travel

LOVING LIFE AND SHARING IT

I love the life I have been given where I get to travel and see new places, family and friends – turning strangers into friends. I love the thrill of seeing nature in all its diversity in new places and wonder at the majesty of Creation.  I get to spend time with precious family members and friends who once were part of our tightly knit community in Rhodesia, now scattered over the four corners of the globe.  I get to meet the new families and friends they have created in different cultures and settings. I am inspired by their stories and resilience to hardships. In turn this inspires me to share our common stories and my passion for travel, art and writing with you my friends and followers.

My adventurous life may sound romantic, colorful and exciting and it is, but it is also scary – going into the unknown, making decisions, not knowing if they are the best. On this trip to Australia, I chose an airline that goes through Hong Kong, never having been there before, not having a clue what to expect, and not knowing that the coronavirus was just about to break loose! My stress levels were heading through the ceiling at the prospect of finding my way around with a seven-hour layover at the start of Chinese New Year! Eventually I took my pride in my pocket and asked for Airport Assistance! What a blessing, lovely people met me and took me through the right routes to get me to my destination with minimum stress and I was delivered safely to the bosom of my family in Brisbane.

This was a new thing for me to start to trust other people to guide me through difficult terrain I had never been before, yet it was the very thing that I needed to help me keep calm and enjoy my journey.  How often do we hold back on asking for help when we think we can do it all ourselves, or we are to prideful to say we can’t do it alone? I know I have been the mistress of independence for many years, but somehow age seems to bring a certain vulnerability too.

I also realized I could not do my blog justice while on the road, as I am busy gathering material for the next few of years’ worth of stories.  I did not want to leave you without contact for several months, so again I have asked for help! I have asked one of my very first clients at one of the Divorce Recovery Workshops I ran, Denise Mclaughlin, to be my guest blogger, sharing her “Festive Journey” with you.

I have been so proud of the way that Denise got on with her life after divorce. It has not been easy for her most of the time, but she has with faith, rebuilt a life she enjoys and can be proud of. She inspires me with her adventures (much more adventurous than I, travelling alone in her converted Mazda) and I am hoping she will inspire you too.  Life can throw us curved balls and bad experiences, but I love to share other perspectives on what could have been a disaster and upset for us in these difficulties and show that God is able to work all things together for good, for His purposes. Sometimes it is a point of new growth and where once we were stunted, the dead wood had been trimmed away allowing new heathy growth to take place. Sometimes we just need a bit of help and guidance through the difficult places before we get that breakthrough.

I am hoping that you will be inspired by Denise’s’ Festive Journey, please leave your comments and feed back in the contact form, we would love to hear from you.  Denise writes in both English and Afrikaans, her personal blog is written mainly in Afrikaans one of the twelve official languages of South Africa.  I will leave her to introduce herself in my next blog.

www.crossingmybridges.com

https://myfestivejourney.blogspot.com/